Emerald Legion - Chapter twelve
“The plot coagulates” – because no Legion tale could be complete without the ubiquitous Giant Killer Robot fight
Sarya of Venegar had a pain in her skull from these endless arcane rituals and ceremonies that the delegates referred to as ‘diplomacy.’ She had developed a great respect for Orin Fex, of Colu, who would stand aloof and spoke only matter-of-factly. His rudeness was comforting, in it’s own way, as compared to the slippery words of Ravin of Talokk, who would say one thing while meaning another or the sickening platitudes of the Orandan Ambassador, who could sit for hours talking and talking and talking more, and never come to any decision at all.
What madness could compel a people to hold meetings to decide when they are going to hold still other meetings? To argue for days about what business they will discuss at a meeting in the future? One thing was certain, the United Planets was in dire need of the strong hand of monarchy.
Her pad buzzed with a high priority incoming message and she closed the document on Winathian crop genetics to answer the call from the SP sector chief. “Yes, Commissioner Rellos?”
“Highness.” The man said perfunctorily, clearly distracted by something occurring on another screen. “You mentioned previously that the city could call upon your Champions…” he began, clearly attempting to be diplomatic, but rushing his words in some urgency.
Sarya decided to speed him along, “I will dispatch them at once. Where do you require them?”
The man turned to actually face the pad, having apparently expected to go through an extended conversation to get to this point, “Dockside. They won’t be able to miss the… disturbance.” The image on the pad shifted as he turned it to face the image he was seeing on his own monitors. What seemed like a child’s playtoy, a metal-clad knight, was moving slowly and jerkily across an indistinct terrain, lights flashing. The scene pulled back, and Sarya could see that the machine was taller than most of the surrounding buildings, and that flying SP vehicles were being swatted from the sky by its’ over-sized limbs, or blasted spiraling into the ground by the blaster cannons affixed to its’ shoulders. She could just make out the words written in Interlac on its’ chest as it turned towards the camera.
Turning her thoughts inwards, Sarya’s mind touched the Emerald Eye and broadcast a command to her Champions' Rings, Champions! Report to the Metropolis docks, immediately. Assist the Science Police against the… Giant Killer Robot...
“They will arrive shortly,” Sarya promised, and then severed the connection, having noticed that the Commissioner was already attending to other matters.
“Giant Killer Robot?” Garth said dubiously as he and Imra sailed into the throne room and directly out a service hatch constructed in the crystal ceiling.
~That’s what the lady said.~ Imra thought, humor tinging her mental ‘voice.’
In their chambers, Rokk was flying out the door when his forward motion was arrested by a steely grasp on his ankle.
Lydda was pulling a blade from the wall with her free arm, while casually holding him in mid-air with the other. “You will bring me to the battle.” She said, matter-of-factly, pulling a mask over her face.
“Lydda, it’s day…” Rokk warned, wondering how she could possibly be holding him in place, against the force of his Champion’s Ring. She should have been pulled off-balance, if not physically dragged along with him.
“I am prepared.” She said, sliding her new sun-lenses into place, and he noticed that the new outfit Sarya had provided covered every inch of skin.
“Hold on,” Rokk said, moving around to grab her around the waist, and then suddenly he was free and they surged forward.
With a rush of magnetic force, Rokk caught up with Imra and Garth. Fortunately, Jath’s extra weight didn’t seem to be appreciably slowing his flight, although he was concerned about expending too much of his magnetic reserves before even getting there.
Within moments, the rampaging machine was visible, a dozen meters in height, and plated in red and gold armor, with blaster cannons that could only have come from a scout ship of some sort firing indiscriminately into the surrounding warehouses. Humanoid in shape, it seemed to ignore any resistance from the SP drones buzzing around it, swatting them aside, or blasting them down, without stopping it’s relentless advance.
Going in, Garth announced through his Ring, swooping low and erratic over the ground with such grace that Rokk felt a moment of jealousy. Blasts of lightning flew up into the machine as Garth wove between its’ legs, rotating in mid-flight so that he was blasting it in the back as he soared up behind it. The blaster-cannons lacked the field of fire, and the robots entire torso pivoted, so that it was facing backwards while still walking forwards. Both cannons opened fire at the flying Champion, and his friends winced as he dropped from the air. But he had deliberately dropped before the beams reached him, and was again flying low, using the ground as cover as he moved in for another run.
“There,” Lydda pointed and abruptly let go of Rokk and plummeted to the ground, landing with a heavy impact that fractured the ferrocrete beneath her, only to stand up, fully in the shadows of a warehouse.
Rokk took advantage of Garth’s distraction to come up behind the giant machine, and unleashed an electromagnetic pulse directly into the back of its’ stumpy head. The machine pivoted again with blinding speed, completely unaffected, and a giant limb sent him flying out of control into the distance. Only his magnetic powers saved him from broken ribs as he repelled himself away from the metallic limb, and so avoided the worst of the impact, but still he floated in mid-air, attempting to regain his bearings.
This isn’t working, it’s completely shielded! Garth announced as he unleashed another blistering barrage into the creature, only serving to score the black letters on it’s torso, which indeed proclaimed it to be a ‘Giant Killer Robot.’ The returning blaster-fire caused an explosion in a fallen SP drone, and the shockwave caught the wildly veering Champion unprepared, sending him into a building with bruising force.
Imra hovered in the air, watching and feeling more helpless than ever, but observed that the robot had completely ignored Rokk, hovering in mid-air, a sitting duck, and was even now walking past Garth, stunned on the ground. She began to hatch a plan as a tiny projectile embedded in the creatures’ torso. She could see Jath, hugging the shadows and staring at the other blade in her hand uselessly. The machine hadn’t even noticed her attack.
Jath threw her blade down in frustration and turned to a freight-loading machine that must have weighed several tons. Calling upon every name of every Warrior soul she could remember, she braced her legs and heaved. Imra watched with shock as the freight-hauler slammed into the robot and nearly knocked it from its feet. While it stood reeling, Imra enacted her plan, telepathically contacting the dozen SP troopers engaged in a constant retreat, futilely sending long-range blaster fire at the armored behemoth.
~Strike here,~ Imra said, presenting an image of the left-most blaster cannon, ~Now.~
The speed and force of the compulsion was such that half of the SP snipers were shooting before they even realized that they had not received this command from the Commissioner over their head-sets, and the blaster-cannon quickly became a smoking ruin.
~Again!~ Imra commanded, redoubling the strength of her compulsion, forcing the image of the remaining blaster-cannon into the minds of the SP troopers, and like puppets, their arms jerked and they again lay down a coordinated stream of plasma-fire at the remaining turret, until it too was a smoldering husk. She could feel that most of the SP had recognized her command as telepathic this time, but few chose to resist, having witnessed the effectiveness of her telepathic sighting.
The machine had regained it’s footing, and pivoted towards Jath, stomping towards her at speed, as the Warrior woman belted it with every single object available within her area of shadow, including several cargo crates that must have weighed many hundreds of kilos. Garth had just drifted uneasily into the sky and Rokk was flying quickly back into the fray, but neither arrived in time to prevent the massive machine from crouching and striking Jath with a blow of such force that she rocketed back through the air like a missile, limbs limply pinwheeling as her body spun, clearly unconscious, or worse.
“NO!” Rokk screamed, reaching out with all his magnetic might to try and slow her flight, magnetic forces pulling against her metal armor. Jath landed hard a hundred yards distant, and sparks screeched as she slid another ten meters before stopping in a tumble of battered armor and bleeding limbs.
The machine stomped forward, ignoring all other targets, bearing down on Jath’s still form. A dozen support beams rocketed past Garth, magnetically propelled like shot from a rail-gun, some sinking directly into the machines back. From her vantage point, Imra could see that one of the make-shift spears had penetrated deeply and saw sparks. Her voice echoed in their heads, ~The shielding is breached! Now, Garth!~
Flying in just behind the projectiles, Garth placed both hands on the protruding spar and channeled every bit of power he could muster through it and into the belly of the beast, only to be hurled clear as it spun again.
He looked up at the enormous machine towering over him, holding up his hand as a shower of sparks rained down, and the breath he’d been holding finally released as he realized that the robot was dead in place, noisily shutting down with loud clanks and thuds.
Imra descended next to him and pulled him clear, thinking that it was about to topple over at any second, but it remained standing, smoking and leaking fluids, a grotesque statue.
Rokk had landed in front of Lydda and found that he had barely enough magnetic capacity remaining to lift her body and carry her back into the shadows, where he sat next to her and began trying to peel off her battered armor by hand.
Imra led Garth over to their friend, ~Rokk, I’ve got a medical team on the way. She’s still alive.~ she thoughtcast.
“I know,” Rokk said without looking up, removing the breastplate that was restricting her breathing, and adjusting her bracer to support her broken upper arm. “It’s my role. She brings me food and gives me shelter. I remove her armor after battle and cleanse her wounds.” he said numbly, as if reciting a child’s rhyme.
“How long must I wear this device?” Jath complained.
Checking the read-outs on the regen-unit, Rokk set his hand on the back of her neck and massaged it, “The rest of the day, Jath. You were very lucky…”
Imra and Garth sat around a conference table, across from Rokk and hover-chair-confined Jath. Sarya was at the head of the table, finishing up a conversation with SP Commissioner Rellos.
Pointing at the pad, depicting the battle, Imra had doubts, ~This thing had an agenda. It knocked Garth for a loop, and Rokk, and instead of going for the kill, it completely ignored both of them and continued marching along, blowing stuff up.~
Garth was looking at maps of the area, running scenarios to attempt to determine if it had some target, but was running into no obvious targets. “Where did the sprocking thing come from, anyway? 10 meter assault mechs with the words ‘Giant Killer Robot’ stenciled on the chest don’t just grow on trees…”
The Queen had finished her conversation with the Commissioner and answered Garth. “The individual components all arrived today on different transports from all over the United Planets. The SPs have not yet found any correlation between these shipments, other than the fact that all ended up in the same storage facility, and burst free of their containers and assembled themselves into the final machine you defeated.”
Rokk turned to Imra. “The robot may have ignored me and Garth, but it definitely went for the kill on Jath. She couldn’t have been the target, could she?”
Jath cut in, “Perhaps it simply recognized me as the threat it had not been prepared against?”
~What do you mean, Jath?~
“It was a machine. Immune to your mind-speech. It was shielded against Ranzz’s skyfire. And it was shielded again against your mastery of metal,” she added, looking up and placing her uninjured hand over Rokk's.
~That sort of shielding could just have been a coincidence…~ Imra began, but Garth cut her off.
“No. Jath is right. The cost to shield a machine of that size against all forms of electromagnetic disruption would be astronomical. Nobody would do that unless it was specifically designed to face that sort of assault.”
Sarya chose that moment to interrupt her Champions. “At the present, the Commissioner is quite grateful for our assistance in this matter. It would be prudent, for the time being, to not suggest that our presence has incited this incident, at least until we are in full possession of the facts.” At the matching concerned expressions, Sarya clarified. “I am not suggesting that we lie, or shirk responsibility if this theory does indeed prove to be true. I merely stress that we will find the SP less than cooperative in the investigation if they believe us to be a part of the problem…”
“The cunning hunter knows when to wait quietly.” Jath agreed.
“Okay, work with the SPs for now, ‘fess up if we find any more evidence that this was targeted towards the Embassy.” Garth conceded. Suddenly looking up, he added, “Jath should have a Ring. Rokk doesn’t have unlimited power and it’s going to cut into his effectiveness if he has to carry her around.”
Jath started shaking her head, but Sarya was the first to speak. “That would be inappropriate. Jath’s loyalties are to Kathoon and Ambassador Marin. She is a guest, and a welcome one, but I would not ask her to abandon her calling.” Jath nodded, satisfied with this explanation.
Sarya closed her eyes and thought aloud, “I can place a new order for Braalian mag-steel, although it will take some time to produce to specifications.” Turning to Jath, “the new armor I will provide will be as strong as your own, but also contain a powerful magnetic charge. This will be of no use to you, but will allow Champion Krinn to draw upon your armors’ reserves as well as his own.”
“He will be able to draw strength from my presence on the field of battle?” Jath asked, leaning back in surprise.
Imra had been quiet for some time as Garth traced out projected trajectories on his maps and Rokk rubbed Jath’s shoulders. She finally bit the bullet and broadcast a thought, making sure that everyone at the table ‘heard’ it,
~I’m glad you were there today, Jath, although I’m sorry you got hurt. I’m also glad you were here to add another viewpoint on the robot’s motivations.~
Jath’s face was impassive and her head tilted slightly as Imra spoke in their minds. She scowled, “I have not sought your approval, but it is welcome. You also fought well, instructing the male security forces in the proper use of their weapons.” Her head bobbed, and at first Imra thought she was nodding, but it was clear that she was starting to lose consciousness again.
“Okay, bed-time for the lovely lady in the regen-suite, I think,” Rokk said, turning Jath’s chair towards the exit, pausing only to turn to Imra and whisper, ‘thanks.’
Imra smiled, eyes closing briefly as she nodded to Rokk, and then turned to see if she could help Garth determine the robot’s goal.